Skip to main content

Full text of "Verdict On India"

See other formats

IN a book of this nature it is quite inevitable that there should be
considerable gaps. To admit this is not to make any concession to
the 'live-in-India-for-thirfcy-years9 school of thought. If one lived
in India for three hundred years there would still be endless
deficiencies in one's knowledge. An army of scholars, working
for many lifetimes, would only be able to hkirn the surface of a
country so complex and so imponderable. The best that any
single man can do is to give a rough sketch emphasizing those
features that strike him as most significant.
That has been my endeavour. Even so, there are too many un~
certain, lines in our sketch, too many shadowy spaces that need to
be%blocked in.' This chapter is a rough effort to strengthen those
Jines and fill in those spaces.
We will begin by repairing an omission that is only too common
in books about India.
A casual perusal of the Indian debates in the House of Commons
would suggest that most of the speakers were quite unaware that
nearly two-fifths of the territory of the country is not uuder British
rule at all, but is under the rule of the Princes, whose subjects
number no less than eighty millions*1 If they mention the States
at all they speak of them with airy patronage, as though they
were circus exhibits, that could'be whisked off the stage by the
wave of the Congress wand. They seldom if ever inquire either if
it I> desirable that they should be whisked, or.. .assuming that
it is desirable,. .how the whisking is to be done9 nor by whom,
nor with what consequence so drastic a measure is likely to be
*•* * There are 562 States in India, but at least a third of them are of minor imporUnce,
•while over a hundred are so tiny that they would more fittingly be described aa
'estates.' States like Hyderabad, Mysore, "Kashmir, etc., however, are larger and
more densely populated than many European countries.